About 200 New Jersey firefighters were at the scene in Passaic Friday night as a massive fire broke out at a factory where pool and spa products are made, according to reports.
The fire at the Qualco facility reached 11 alarms at midnight Saturday and forced authorities to begin evacuating nearby residents, FOX 5 from New York reported.
“We are by no means under control,” Passaic Fire Chief Patrick Trentacost told NJ.com shortly before 11 p.m. ET, “but we are doing everything we can to contain it.” He added that firefighters were aware of the presence of chemicals at the site and were “monitoring the direction of this fire very closely”.
The building where the fire started has collapsed on itself, the chief told NorthJersey.com. It was vacant but was used to store plastics and chemicals, according to the report.
Previously, the mayor of Passaic, Hector Lora, had warned the inhabitants during a facebook live video to keep their windows closed as unspecified chemicals burned at the factory.
“We ask all residents to close your window, to stay away from the immediate area,” Lora said.
The fire spread to Qualco after starting in the Majestic Industries part of the industrial complex in Passaic, New Jersey’s 16th-largest city with a population of about 70,000, located about 16 miles west from New York.
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Qualco’s products include chlorine granules for swimming pools, and chemicals including chlorine were reportedly stocked at the factory, NJ.com reported.
Firefighters at the scene were from Passaic, Essex and Bergen counties, the outlet reported.
Lora, who is also Passaic’s director of public safety, called the fire one of the worst he can remember, according to NJ.com.
The mayor said staff from the state Department of Environmental Protection were on site and would be monitoring air quality throughout the night, NorthJersey.com reported.
Governor Phil Murphy, posted on Twitter, also urged area residents to “stay safe”.
“Praying for the safety of our first responders at the scene,” the governor wrote.
Videos posted to social media showed nearby residents, including children, gathered on the nearby street as bright orange flames lit up the night sky and smoke billowed from the site.
The smoke was heavy enough to be detected by National Weather Service radar, NorthJersey.com reported.
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At least one firefighter was injured battling the blaze, according to FOX 5.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, according to the report.
The facility was empty around 5 p.m. ET and a security guard who was on duty was found, NorthJersey.com reported.
Weather at the site, near the Passaic River, was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit around midnight, with winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, the outlet reported, citing data from the National Weather Service.
Qualco has been in the city for about 30 years and the site has been used by the Passaic Fire Department for chemical fire response training drills, the outlet reported.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.